What Is Neurosurgery?

Differing from neurology, Neurosurgery is the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of patients with injury to, or diseases/disorders of the brain, spinal cord and spinal column, and peripheral nerves within all parts of the body.

Neurosurgery refers to surgery of the nervous system. The nervous system is made up of two core parts:

  • The central nervous system — The brain and spinal cord
  • The peripheral nervous system — Nerves that branch off from the spinal cord and go throughout the body. 


Neurosurgery could involve surgery on either of these two core sections. For example, surgery on the brain would be a form of neurosurgery. So, would the surgical repair of nerves in the hand. 

Neurosurgery is done by neurosurgeons who train and specialize in this unique kind of surgery. A neurosurgeon must graduate from an accredited medical school then complete one year of surgical internship in neurosurgery. After that first year, they must complete a seven-year residency program in neurosurgery.

What Is a Neurosurgeon? What does a Neurosurgeon do?

A physician who specializes in neurosurgery.  Neurosurgeons are not just brain surgeons, they are medically trained neurosurgical specialists who help patients suffering from back and neck pain as well as a host of other illnesses ranging from trigeminal neuralgia to head injury and Parkinson's disease. Dependent upon the nature of the injury or disease a neurological surgeon may provide surgical and/or non-surgical care.

Neurosurgery and Spine

Along with being skilled brain surgeons able to diagnose head injuries and a number of other conditions, our team of neurosurgeons are also talented spine surgeons with the ability to diagnose and treat lower back pain and upper back pain. All our providers work closely together in diagnosing back and spine issues. Read about our comprehensive spine program to learn more.

What is the Difference Between Neurosurgeons and Orthopedic Spine Surgeons?

Both neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons who have completed fellowship training in spine surgery are equally well qualified for most of the typical spine operations. There are a few types of spine surgeries in which one specialty tends to be more qualified than the other, such as:

  • Neurosurgeons tend to be more qualified to perform intradural surgery (surgery inside of the dura in the spinal cord), such as thecal sac tumors.
  • Orthopedic surgeons tend to be better qualified to do spinal deformity surgery, such as scoliosis.

A neurosurgeon is trained to operate on the nervous system, including the spinal cord but is not limited to it. An orthopedic spine surgeon specializes in the spinal cord and all its structures. That would include the bony areas, the supportive connective tissue, and the cord itself.

Today, neurosurgeons and the best spine surgeons both do any procedure involving the spine.


Questions about neurosurgery or spine surgery? Contact New England Neurological Associates today to learn more.




Questions to ask your Spine Surgeon

Our Specialists

Dionne, Ethan J. – PA-C View Profile
LaPierre, Robert J. – PA-C View Profile
Lynch, Maddie PA-C View Profile
Mangano, Max – PA-C View Profile
Miller, Robert A. – M.D. View Profile
Sinha, Saurabh – M.D. View Profile
Terry, Anna R. – M.D., MPH View Profile
Ty, Henry – M.D., F.A.C.S. View Profile
Wambach, Rachel – PA-C View Profile